One-Year Delay In DNA Sample Checks Common In Pittsburgh


The recent Urban Institute report touting use of DNA evidence in property crimes noted that if it became the norm nationwide, it would overwhelm the criminal justice system. That finding is particularly relevant to Pittsburgh-area law enforcement officials, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Because of limited forensic resources, the practice is working its way into police custom slowly. Sgt. Kevin Gasiorowski, who heads the Pittsburgh police burglary squad, said it is unrealistic to expect Allegheny County’s crime lab to handle the glut of evidence that would result from collecting DNA at all property crimes. “We have 3,000 burglaries a year. They would be overrun,” he said. “It’s not like on TV where you just get a swab of something and two minutes later it pops up on a computer.”

“You’ve got people saying you’ve got to look at old cases, you have the people who are investigating crimes, you have the people who are prosecuting crimes, and we’re all taxing a system that has finite capacity,” said John Rago, founding director of the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University. “We always deal with a backlog as it is,” said Fred Fochtman, director of laboratories at the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office, which handles DNA evidence for the city police department. On average, the lab processes samples with a one-year delay.


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